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Reviews Categories | Amplifiers: RF Power - HF & HF+6M | Ten Tec 418 Solid State Linear Amplifier Help


Reviews Summary for Ten Tec 418 Solid State Linear Amplifier
Ten Tec 418 Solid State Linear Amplifier Reviews: 9 Average rating: 4.3/5 MSRP: $785
Description: 5 watts input for 100 W out using MOSFET technology for 100% duty cycle on CW and SSB. 11 band (160, 80, 60, 40, 30, 20, 17, 15, 12, 10, 6). Auto band switching by rf sensing with any radio and manual band switching. Small and light with a large LCD display including Power out, SWR, operating voltage and temperature. 13.8V 20 Amp PS.
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.tentec.com/products/Model-418--160%252d6-Meter-Solid-State-Linear-Amplifier.html
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WB1AAL Rating: 5/5 Jan 25, 2014 10:18 Send this review to a friend
Pricey But Worth The Money  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
There is much to like about the Ten-Tec 418 HF-6 Meter QRP amplifier. The amp easily generates 100 watts out with 5 watts input. Changing bands is a breeze--just press a band button. Helpfully, the band buttons light up, so you always know what band the amp is on. And the amp even has the ability to measure the operating frequency and change bands automatically.

The 418 has all kinds of protection for the MOSFET final. It's hard to do so something that hurts the amp. You can read power out, SWR, final current and the heatsink temperature right from the front panel. You can even change the background color of the display to your liking.

The downsides are few. There is no bypass switch. To run QRP it is necessary to power off the amp. Not a big deal as the power on/off switch is located on the front panel. Still a bypass switch would have been a nice addition.

It is rather easy to trip the amp into protection mode--especially with an auto-tuner. It would be nice to have the ability for the auto-tuner to adjust the SWR before the amp goes to full power. Again a bypass switch would have been helpful here.

The nits aside this is a fine ham product, well designed and well built. Most importantly, the reports that I receive from other hams while driving the 418 from a Flex-1500 are fantastic. Most people can't believe that I am only running 100 watts. Working DX is no problem and regional contacts under marginal band conditions are completely possible.

The cost of the 418 is above many competing 100 watt amps. Still, for the price you get a rugged, quality 100 watt amplifier for your QRP rig that comes with Ten-Tec's first rate support. In the final analysis it's a product that is worth every penny.
 
K1FPV Rating: 5/5 Jan 24, 2014 14:50 Send this review to a friend
Super Combination w/Argonaut VI  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've only had 1 day so far to play with the 418 amplifier hooked up to my Argonaut VI. So far, it looks like a match made in Heaven!

The receiver on the Argonaut VI is almost as good as my Orion. I don't have the number of filter selections like the Orion, but this combination works almost as good and takes up much less space.

The pair together on SSB, CW and AM......yes I said AM got me good reports and good audio quality. I'm using the amp at 100 watts out like a standard transceiver and have no problems. It makes the little rig sound like a big one!

I think it is a must for anyone who has a QRP rig and wants to have a little more power or umph!
 
AB2YC Rating: 5/5 Jul 7, 2013 18:01 Send this review to a friend
A great little amplifier.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I'm using a Flex-1500 to drive the Ten-Tec 418 into a SGC SG-230 Auto coupler with a S9v31 antenna.
I've had this amp about a month and a half now and have had time to figure it out (I've made over 300 contacts with it)

At first I ran various issues where I kept tripping it into the protection mode,
and I was almost ready to send it back, then I figured out what I was doing wrong.

Here is what works for me (I am using an Auto Coupler that will tune as needed).

1. Only run the tune power about 20% on the Flex-1500
that will keep the amp from tripping as the SG-230 tunes.
2. On some bands (40 in particular) manually select the band before applying RF or it will still trip
(20% out on the flex can easily drive the 418 to about 50 watts).

An alternative would be to disable the Keyline in the tune mode (I have submitted a request to Flex for this)

The support from Ten-Tec was great (when I was still trying to figure out what I was doing wrong).


Now onto the actual Review:

It is a great little amp, and by covering HF-6 it matches up nicely to the Flex-1500.

The display is large and clear (easy for old eyes) and the output switches automatically
to the 6 meter port when 6 meters is selected (that feature can be disabled if desired).

The internal fans are fairly quiet and I hardly hear them unless I am driving
the amp hard (SSTV, RTTY etc) then the fans step up to high speed.

I wanted something that did the job and Looked Nice in my shack, the Ten-Tec 418 fit that quite well.

My only real complaint (and really a nitpick) was that the power cord is
pretty short (under 6') a couple of feet more sure would have been nice.
 
W4VAB Rating: 5/5 Dec 21, 2012 06:56 Send this review to a friend
Excellent Product  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I use this amplifier with an Elecraft KX3. I have used it at home and on a trip to St. Lucia (J6/W4VAB) with a Buddies in the Caribbean DXpedition. In spite of prior reviews to the contrary the rig perform QSK very well. I have used it on 160 through 6 and operated CW, SSB, and PSK-31 modes. It performs flawlessly. Although I have only had the rig a couple of months it has been used for over 2,000 QSOs.
 
K4DSP Rating: 4/5 Nov 9, 2012 09:09 Send this review to a friend
Overall good  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
Quick summary: this amplifier works well with a 5w exciter such as the Flex-1500.

When I received this amp a couple of weeks ago I initially had the same issue as a previous reviewer, namely that the amplifier would issue an SWR fault when tuning with an automatic antenna tuner. The manual for the 418 clearly states that SWR faults will not occur if the output power is less than 50w, but that was clearly not the case in my application. Even when tuning at power levels of 20 or 30 watts I would sometimes get SWR faults. Unfortunately my autotuner will not tune at QRP levels (it's a 1500w tuner) so I needed 20 to 30 watts for it to tune reliably. I called Ten Tec support and explained the problem to them and they ultimately suggested that I return the amp to them. They apparently upgraded the firmware and returned the unit to me, and the SWR fault issue I had seems to be fixed. The firmware in the amplifier can not be upgraded in the field, so I assume any updates would require a trip back to Ten Tec.

With the SWR fault issue fixed the amp mates nicely and works well with the Flex-1500 and makes a pretty seamless 100w radio out of it. The 418 is well-protected from over-drive, over-temp, and high VSWR. I've had no problems using it on RTTY and PSK31. You have to run it pretty hard to get the fans to come on, and even then it's reasonably quiet. Driven with 5w it seems to have no problem making 100w output from 160m through 6m. As far as CW goes there isn't any QSK support, but the Flex-1500 I am driving it with is so far away from being a QSK-capable radio that the amplifier is not the limiting factor.

What's not to like? Well, the antenna switching leaves something to be desired. There are three antenna outputs - Antenna 1, Antenna 2, and the 6m Antenna output. You can select antenna 1 or 2 from the front panel via a toggle switch, but the 6m antenna output is automatically selected if you select 6m or transmit on 6m. So if you do your antenna switching external to the amplifier (as many do) you'll find it frustrating when operating 6m. Also frustrating is the way the amplifier handles bypass, or rather the way it doesn't handle bypass. If you want to bypass the amplifier and operate on exciter power alone you just turn the amp power off. That's OK if you are using antenna 1, but if you are using antenna 2 or the 6m antenna output you have no way to bypass the amplifier and run only at QRP power level unless you disconnect the amplifier enable line or wire a switch in series with it as I ultimately did. Ten Tec's advertising claims that "bypass operation allows low power operation until higher power is needed" but that's only sort of true. Finally, it would be nice if this amplifier remembered antenna and input attenuator settings on a band-by-band basis, but I think the hardware design precludes this, at least for antenna selection. This all may sound nit-picky, but this is a $785 device, so my expectations were somewhat high.

But there aren't a lot of good choices in the ham market for a 160m-6m 100w amplifier. As of this writing Elecraft still hasn't released pricing for their KXPA100 amplifier, and it's unclear when it will ship. There are some import (CB) amps and some kits, but all of them come with their own caveats and/or demons. So it's hard to say if $785 is steep or unreasonable unless/until there is an amplifier with the same specs available in non-kit form. I suspect that for me and a good many folks using Flex-1500 or Elecraft KX3-type radios it will be good enough.
73 de Doug K4DSP
 
K5RHD Rating: 3/5 Oct 22, 2012 11:33 Send this review to a friend
Did not work for me  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I am giving this a three because I do not doubt that with a resonant antenna and/or different setup than mine, it would work well. Construction and fit/finish on the amp is great. It feels like a solid well engineered piece of gear. My setup is an Elecraft KX3 --->418--->SGC-237 Smart Tuner---->S9 43 foot vertical with 56 radials adding up to 1,000 feet of copper. My issue is that even with 1 watt of drive and full ATTN on the 418, it would immediately go into protection mode. The SGC tuner was not capable of tuning an acceptable SWR before the 418 faulted. The KX3 barefoot with 10 watts was forgiving enough to allow for the SGC to tune so I know that it was working OK. By the time I had this all set up, I had exceeded the AES return window for the SGC so I had to sell it used at a substantial loss. Ten Tec issued a refund with no argument. I have no issue with with Ten Tec at all. I just wanted to let folks know that resonant antennas are probably your friend with use of the 418. I am disappointed as I had high hopes for the 418. I would buy one again if my setup changed and an external tuner was no longer required. The 418 is super easy to hook up. Directions in manual are good. Also, the 418 was pour at sensing band changes-they rarely happened and I was constantly changing the band manually. This could be an artifact of the fault issue with respect to SWR-I do not know.
 
K4LY Rating: 4/5 Sep 22, 2012 07:52 Send this review to a friend
Recommended  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I've owned the attractive Ten Tec 418 for about 3 weeks and tested it or used it on all bands, including on 6M during the September VHF contest. It is plug and play with protection from high SWR and overdrive plus thermal protection of the MOSFET PA. My exciter is a Flex 1500 at 5 watts on all bands so I can not speak to the overdrive protection, but I have used the wrong antenna or no antenna (on six meters) several times and the PA immediately faulted, thus protecting the amplifier. I bought the amp because I wanted to be able to use my Flex 1500 with 100 watts out in order to join friends on 160M, 75 meter and 6 meter round tables when 5 watts was insufficient. The actual power from my Flex is about 4.9 to 5 watts according to the Flex power meter and also my Oak Hills Research WM-1 QRP wattmeter. The amp is performing to spec on all bands except 40M where the output is about 75 watts key down and drawing only 13A compared to the 90-105 watts output on other bands at about 17A except on 160M where it draws 20A. The amp was powered with 13.8 V, and two bird watt meters were used to monitor power. The good: small, attractive, light, 100% duty cycle (haven't tested that), switches bands automatically with RF sensing, extensive fault protection, large LCD readout of many parameters which seem accurate, good value. My criticism, after 3 weeks of use, would be the low power on 40M which is probably unique to my amp, and the Ten Tec departure from providing QSK. There is also no ground on transmit jack for driving a high power amp. I would recommend this amp and think it deserves a rating higher than 4, but less than 5. I look forward to more technical reviews in QST or here.
 
WB5XX Rating: 3/5 Sep 10, 2012 08:27 Send this review to a friend
Could have been much better  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
The #418 amp looks nice and does the 100 watts with very low drive on all bands.There is no provisions for updating the firmware/software except a return trip to TenTec.Some bands require adjusting the radio drive which is normal or using the attn steps of the amp.To me it would have been more user friendly if the amp could remember the attn.setting for the bands that required using the attn.to prevent overdrive.My last comment is the deal breaker for me which may or may not be anyone else opinion.For whatever reason TenTec uses a seperate antenna coax connector for 6 meters and the amp defaults to this when radio is set to 6 meters.It does not matter to the amp whether you have a 6 meter antenna connected or not.Maybe they were trying to protect their $785.00 amp.I would prefer to protect my $6000.00 radio.All is ok if you use a seperate 6 meter antenna but there are lots of hams that use band decoders to auto change antennas.A choice of which coax output on the amp would have been nice to have.TenTec service dept really did not want to talk about this and left me wondering.For the above reasons I could not give a top rating.It just seemms that at $785.00 the amp could have been more of a smart amp.I would guess that when Elecraft comes out with their 100 watt amp it will be a smart amp.
 
VE7IG Rating: 5/5 Sep 5, 2012 18:49 Send this review to a friend
Costs but performs beautifully.  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
I got this little amplifier to go with an Elecraft KX3 transceiver. It interfaces nicely for SSB and for VOX keying on CW, I don't use QSK. It is plug and play right out of the box and works as advertised. There are 2 separate outputs switchable from the front panel as well as a third output for 6m, something I needed. If you are thinking about an amplifier for your QRP radio you can't go wrong with this one.
 


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